Four remain in front of a global audience.
What has been a wildly successful rendition of the World Cup has rightfully seen four sides through the bracket that perfectly complement each other, which just so happens to be the perfect way to further the sport.
As 2014 World Cup reports, the festivities in Brazil have been a resounding success in the sport's global expansion:
The semi-finals will only keep the surge alive. Brazil and Germany present an intriguing defensive showdown, while the duel between Netherlands and Argentina is sure to provide plenty of scoring chances.
With the two matches on approach, here is what to expect.
The full World Cup bracket can be viewed at FIFA.com.
|Date||Fixture||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|Tue., July 8||Brazil vs. Germany||4 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wed., July 9||Netherlands vs. Argentina||4 p.m.||ESPN|
Brazil 1-2 Germany
Brazil, 180 minutes away from a sixth title, are in trouble, which is very much an understatement as the clock ticks away toward a showdown with the powerhouse Germany.
By now, fans understand the plight of Neymar, who in five matches had tallied four goals and an assist before succumbing to a serious injury, as The Indy Star helps to put in visual form:
Willian Borges da Silva, the next man up with Neymar likely out of action, then fell to a back injury on Sunday:
Of course, don't forget that Thiago Silva, who was booked with his second caution of the tournament against Colombia, is also set to miss the match, pending an appeal. David Luiz will have to seize the moment in his absence, although the owner of two goals and an assist will have to step up in form to be a viable replacement.
For Joachim Low's side, the return of the imposing Mats Hummels against France—he tallied one goal, two interceptions, three blocks and seven clearances—puts yet another storm cloud of doubt over the home side's chances.
Brazil have pulled off magic in the past, but this is a German side that has allowed one goal in their last three matches and have yet to lose after emerging from the Group of Death. With an imposing set of centre-backs and an unmatched depth at each spot on the roster, Germany have great odds to advance.
Either way, it will prove to be a stunning showdown between two sides that have combined to win eight of the last 19 titles.
Netherlands 0-1 Argentina
Offensive-minded fans will want to clear the schedule for this one.
Argentina are a side that refuses to stop adapting. After winning each match and scoring six goals en route to a duel with Switzerland, Alejandro Sabella's side strengthened the back of the formation and widened the width to give Lionel Messi more room to operate.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands have floundered while taking shots from the run of play, again relying on Arjen Robben for production.
He is also so heavily relied upon by his international team-mates. That much was clear during the quarter-final with Costa Rica, as the Dutch toiled to find the spark that would undo the spirited men in white and red. When Robben is subdued or shackled, as was the case for long spells of the game, the limitations of this Holland team are highlighted.
One could indict Argentina of the same issue, but when Messi can put through passes like this, it tends to not be as big of a deal:
For as potent as the Netherlands have been, Messi's side does not get enough credit for its care on the defensive end of the pitch. Pair that with a continued horizontal stretching of space to give Messi and Gonzalo Higuain room to work, and it is hard to see how the Dutch can keep up.